Alex Hammond’s Tip of the Day: Sky Sport’s Alex Hammond provides a race-by-race guide to day three at the Cheltenham Festival. Cheltenham free bet if you lose
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JLT NOVICES’ CHASE
This race centres around Yorkhill and whether his jumping can hold up sufficiently to demonstrate what he’s capable of between the fences to allow him to win. If none of that makes sense, basically he has a massive engine and if the fences don’t get in the way he will win. He’s a real livewire, but he doesn’t appear to have that natural ability to jump a fence well.
It’s something that doesn’t matter over hurdles because they can skim over the flights without bending their backs. Over fences it’s a different story and he has looked awkward at times when he gets in close or scares himself by standing off. Ruby Walsh will have to be at his brilliant best to get this horse round clear, but if he does he should win and at 11/8 is it worth taking the chance? That’s down to you, but I believe he is the best horse in the race.
Politologue is an interesting one for Paul Nicholls who fancies his chances of winning with this three time winner over fences. At 11/2 he is a more attractive price, but is he good enough to beat Yorkhill? That’s the conundrum.
PERTEMPS FINAL H’CP HURDLE
For Good Measure looks the type that has been campaigned with this race in mind all season and with Philip Hobbs’ horses in such good form he’s one I like in a difficult race to find the winner in. He’s 10/1 and appeals as an each-way selection in a red hot contest.
The only negative surrounding Un De Sceaux for this race is the likelihood that the ground will have dried out a bit too much for him to have his optimum conditions. However, I spoke with his owner on At The Races on Friday and their confidence is high. His 9/4 price isn’t going to make us rich, but he has so much going for him I expect him to win. The trip at Cheltenham should suit him well and will give Ruby time to sort him out at his fences.
Alary is a huge price (25/1) for a horse that was considered Gold Cup class when he came over from France. However, he’s taking a long time to adapt to the British way of racing and has been expensive to follow since joining Colin Tizzard. He’ll make his mark at some point that’s for sure.
I mentioned earlier that Harry Fry could have a superb week and if Unowhatimeanharry wins this race, it will be a huge achievement for the West Country trainer who has improved him beyond all recognition. He won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s festival and he goes from strength to strength. He’s going to be hard to beat and as much as I’m a big fan of Cole Harden, on the face of it he has to improve to repeat his win of two years ago although drying ground will be in his favour. The favourite is 5/4 with Sky Bet and I don’t think they are being stingy!
BROWN ADVISORY PLATE H’CP CHASE
This is a tough race to find the winner of with big priced winners often the norm. Venetia Williams is a trainer with a good record in it and of her entries I like Tango De Juilley who hasn’t run since finishing second in this same contest 12 months ago.
I wrote about the horse in my blog before the Greatwood Gold Cup giving him a strong shout out, but he wasn’t declared and of all the trainers with a licence Williams isn’t one I’d be worried about getting one ready after a year off the track.
This horse will be finely tuned and runs off just a 1lb higher rating this time round. Sky Bet have him at 20/1 and I’ll be backing him to into a place once again.
KIM MUIR H’CP CHASE
Jockey bookings are worth taking note of with the leading Irish amateurs usually snapped up for the fancied runners and Jamie Codd has been booked by Gordon Elliott for Squouateur.
However, James King is a very good amateur who is really making a name for himself in the UK; he’s particularly good over fences. He is booked to ride Neil Mulholland’s Southfield Royale once again having ridden him in the Sky Bet Chase at the end of January.
You may remember that I really fancied the horse to win that handicap chase, but he was the last to finish there on his first run since April. That should have brought him on a tonne and last year’s National Hunt Chase fourth has plenty going for him, not least a mark 6lb lower than at Doncaster. I’m hoping to recoup my Doncaster losses here.
MARES’ NOVICES HURDLE
Warren Greatrex has a superb chance of winning this race with La Bague Au Roi. She worked well in a racecourse gallop at Newbury last weekend and is on very good terms with herself after a winter break. She’s 13/2 and faces some stiff opposition from Ireland, but she hasn’t done anything wrong with her only defeat coming when she was unwell.
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